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Arvin v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 10, 2013

Benjamin Brian Arvin, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

STEPHEN J. HILLMAN, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C § 1381 et seq. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the undersigned. The action arises under 42 U.S.C § 405(g), which authorizes this Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The Plaintiff and Defendant have filed their pleadings and the Defendant has filed a certified transcript of the record ("AR"). After reviewing this matter, this Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner should be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

II. PROCEEDINGS

On August 19, 2009, Plaintiff Benjamin Brian Arvin ("Plaintiff") applied for SSI benefits, alleging a disability that began on January 1, 2009. Plaintiff received a written decision dated October 19, 2009, notifying him that he was denied benefits based on a determination that he was not disabled. Subsequently, Plaintiff requested reconsideration of his claim for SSI payments. In a decision dated December 4, 2009, it was again determined that Plaintiff did not qualify for benefits. At this time, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), and later appeared before ALJ Sally Reason in Los Angeles, California on February 28, 2011. In her decision dated April 14, 2011, the ALJ concluded that the Plaintiff was not disabled. Thereafter, the Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision. After the Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review of the decision, the Plaintiff filed this action for court review.

III. PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff raises two issues. First, the Plaintiff claims that the ALJ failed to adequately consider whether Plaintiff met or equaled a listed impairment. Second, the Plaintiff claims that the ALJ failed to articulate legally sufficient reasons for rejecting Plaintiff's pain testimony.

In response, the Defendant argues that the ALJ adequately considered Plaintiff's impairments in reaching her Step Three Finding, and that the ALJ provided specific reasons supported by substantial evidence to conclude that the Plaintiff's statements lacked credibility.

Each issue is discussed in turn.

III. DISCUSSION

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether: (1) the decision was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla, " Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. of New York v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)), but less than a preponderance." Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). This Court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and detracts from the Secretary's conclusion. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 530 (9th Cir. 1986). A denial of benefits may be set aside where "it is not supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error." Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006).

ISSUE 1

Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to adequately consider whether Plaintiff met or equaled a listed impairment. Defendant responds that the ALJ adequately assessed Plaintiff's impairments to ...


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